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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2020 9 months ago

Inspirational messages keep spirits up in West Orange

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Mindy Hungerford, of Paint Life, has been painting the town — not red — but with motivational messages.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

“Winter Garden Strong.” “We’re in this together.” “We’ll get through this together.” “We will overcome.” 

Those are just some of the words of encouragement local artist and Paint Life owner Mindy Hungerford has painted onto the windows of local businesses around downtown Winter Garden. After many businesses in downtown Winter Garden — and across the country — shut down because of COVID-19, Hungerford got the idea to paint motivational quotes on windows of local businesses to help boost local morale.

“I’m really well connected in the community, and I knew that everyone was struggling — I’m struggling, as well,” Hungerford said. “I just really wanted to do something with all of them because we’re all in this together — we’re all together, alone. I just wanted to do something to give hope to people who, maybe, don’t have any. … That’s what it is: a message of hope.”

Downtown Winter Garden isn’t the only place where you can see Hungerford’s words of encouragement. She also is painting motivational quotes on the windows of local businesses in Clermont, Minneola, Oakland, Ocoee and more. Furthermore, she is not charging any of the businesses and plans to continue doing the paintings for free.

“I’m doing this completely for free for any business, and I won’t take any money,” Hungerford said. “I’ve had quite a few people offer me money, and in this time, when no one is making any, I just don’t want to take any money. So, (businesses) are insisting on giving me things, and I’ve gotten things like bagels for New York Bagel. … It’s just so sweet how everyone wants to love me back. I just love their hearts, and I love the sweetness of (their gestures). … It’s just so sweet because they want to take care of me, too.”

So far, Hungerford’s motivational messages can be seen on the windows of businesses such as Winter Garden Pizza Company, Woof Gang Bakery, Shoo Shoo Baby Boutique and more. Any business located in Winter Garden, Ocoee, Oakland, Clermont or Minneola that wants their windows painted for free can reach out to Paint Life on social media. 

“We’re all in this together, and we need to be there for each other,” Hungerford said. “A lot of the messages I’m saying are like, ‘give grace,’ ‘be kind,’ ‘take care of one another,’ and (they’re) reminding everyone that it’s not all about them.”

Painting windows at local businesses is the type of work Hungerford typically does through Paint Life. In addition to running that business, she co-owns The HitFit Gym — which opened just before the pandemic — with her husband. Like businesses everywhere, both of Hungerford’s businesses have experienced financial impacts. 

“As a small-business owner myself, it’s very scary, and there’s really no end in sight for this,” Hungerford said. “We don’t know what it’s going to look like, and there’s just no answers. I thought that if God gave me this ability to draw and paint, I just want to use it for good, help bring the community together and just be community-minded.

“Paint Life is completely shut down, because we can’t maintain social distancing and no businesses are in business right now,” Hungerford said. “Everyone is in survival mode, so that’s where we are, and our gym is completely shut down, as well, per the government. My husband and I are both out of work, and we’re all just depending on God and trying to survive. There’s strength in numbers, and we just want the community to come together and all take care of each other.”

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